Monday, October 10, 2016

In 1931 Henry Ford considered a plan to build a major Ford manufacturing plant in Italy, actively encouraged by Mussolini. Fiat seemed to have had the power to stop that though

Historically significant, the 1901 Isotta Fraschini is chassis number one, the very first car to wear the famous ‘IF’ badge. At that time the Milan-based company, which had been started by Cesare Isotta and brothers Vincenzo, Antonio and Oreste Fraschini, assembled and sold Renault cars in Italy.

As part of the incentives offered, Mussolini “encouraged” Isotto Fraschini to donate the first car they produced to Ford’s museum (opened in 1929).

As soon as Fiat got wind of this plan to install one of their major rivals in Italy the scheme was halted in its tracks.

The car sat in the Ford museum until Italy declared war on the USA following Pearl Harbor. It was removed from display and lost in a storage unit for over half a century, and finally sold in the 1980s.

 In 2014, however, it was bought by an Italian collector who made sure the chassis came home after 83 years away. Aside from getting the engine to run after decades of silence, the car has not been restored in any way. It remains a rolling chassis and wears ‘the coat of time’ according to its owner.

 So that it can be driven on the Run, however, it has been fitted with a pair of wicker seats mounted on a removable frame allowing it to be quickly returned to its original state. Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Veteran Car Run Steering Group, said: ‘This is a truly remarkable machine. The very first Isotta Fraschini ever built, it is exactly as it left the factory 114 years ago. It has never before been seen in the UK, so its appearance on this year’s Run is something very special indeed.’

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